SAN ANTONIO -- Because the league year has not started yet, the fact that reports have the Cowboys $3.7 million over the salary cap do not mean much of anything right now.
They have not restructured the contracts of quarterback Tony Romo, wide receiver Miles Austin or linebacker DeMarcus Ware yet. If they had, the veterans would not be able to practice with the team because the NFL would view them as new contracts.
The Cowboys will knock the 2011 base salaries of those players down to the veteran minimums -- $810,000 for Romo and Ware; $685,000 for Austin -- and turn the difference into signing bonuses that players will receive immediately.
That will give the Cowboys a little more than $17 million in cap space, well under the $120.4 million cap, plus the $3 million exception they will receive as part of the new CBA.
However, by cutting the likes of Marion Barber, Roy Williams, Leonard Davis and Marc Colombo the Cowboys will carry more than $20 million in dead money into the 2012 salary cap. Much of the savings created by the restructures could be put to use in chewing up that dead money next year.